Wednesday 23 April 2008
Last Update 23 April 2008 12:00 am
BURAIDAH, 23 April 2008 — The seventh national dialogue forum began here yesterday with calls for creating more job opportunities for Saudi women and implementing resolutions on women’s employment.
“We see thousands of foreign women working in health care and other sectors while Saudi women await in long queues for jobs,” said Dr. Rafeeqa Al-Dakhil, a delegate attending the forum.
Saleh Al-Hosain, president of the National Dialogue Forum, said the meeting would discuss various aspects of women’s employment, including its motives. He highlighted the importance of national dialogue, saying that discussions on controversial topics would give momentum to the dialogue process. The participation of prominent personalities would make the event lively and informative, he added.
“Labor Sectors and Employment: A Dialogue Between Society and Labor Institutions” is the forum’s main theme. The first session focused on the complex issue of unemployment in the Kingdom.
Dr. Khaled Al-Sultan, president of King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, moderated the session that dealt with the economic and social reasons for unemployment.
Officials from the ministries of labor and civil service in addition to a large number of academics and media persons are attending the two-day forum.
Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Al-Obaikan, a member of the Shoura Council, said Shariah does not prevent women from working as long as they do not mix with unrelated men. “We have to understand that the basic duty of women is at home and bringing up children,” Al-Obaikan said. He, however, called for opening separate sections for workingwomen at companies and offices.
Dr. Abdul Wahid Al-Humaid, deputy minister of labor, said his ministry has set out a new employment strategy with the support of the private sector. It has been presented to the Supreme Economic Council for approval.
The delegates emphasized the need to find a quick solution to unemployment that creates social and mental problems.
The first day of the forum was distinguished by the active participation of women. Nadiya Al-Dossari said she believed most cases of unemployment cases in the Kingdom were “optional.” She emphasized the need for providing training to Saudi graduates to meet job market requirements.
Dr. Muneera Al-Sheikha spoke about another key problem: transportation. She urged companies to arrange transportation for their women employees.